AUSTIN, Texas — Texans remain negative about the national economy and their personal economic situation, and still are not strongly engaged in the run-up to the 2010 statewide election, according to a statewide survey released today (March 16).
The poll, conducted by members of the Department of Government and the Texas Politics project at The University of Texas at Austin, surveyed 800 Texas residents between Feb. 24 and March 6.
The survey found that 81 percent of those polled said the country was worse off than a year ago, down somewhat from the October 2008 response of 88 percent. Texans' perceptions of their individual economic situation also eased slightly but continued to reflect economic difficulties, with 41 percent saying they were worse off than a year ago, 42 percent saying they were about the same and 17 percent saying they were better off.
Texans were asked about a selection of issues being discussed in the 81st Texas Legislature currently underway in Austin, and were surveyed about their early views of the candidates emerging in the very early stages of the statewide races in 2010.
Among the highlights of the results:
"It seems clear that the economy is affecting how Texans view public policy options," said Daron Shaw, professor of government at the university. "There is greater support for education spending. There is also increased opposition to perceived accommodations for immigrants (and those who encourage illegal immigration), probably because the public is especially sensitive to fairness in the allocation of limited resources. What's more, these reactions are not confined to partisans of one side or the other. They occur across the board."
"The large number of people who are undecided in all of the election numbers suggest that while insiders and political junkies are paying attention to the run-up to 2010, many Texans are not tuned in yet," said Jim Henson, director of Texas Politics. "Among those who have a preference this early in the contest, the Perry-Hutchison race appears much closer than many people seem to think.
"The economy clearly continues to dominate people's thinking about issues, and Texans remain troubled," Henson said. "Their views on the issues before the legislature clearly present challenges to lawmakers. As the results on immigration, and even voter ID suggest, Texans remain a conservative lot on the whole, across ethnic groups and in some cases, party lines. But the results on education, include higher education, suggest that many Texans want government to act decisively-and spend decisively-in some areas."
A more extensive summary of results can be reviewed in the summary document available for download at the Texas Politics Web site: http://texaspolitics.laits.utexas.edu. Additional data, graphs and information will be posted at the Web site.